Any other year Ohio State is unbeaten and ranked No. 4 coming into its annual rivalry game with Michigan, its fans would be trolling the internet for the best airfares to the BCS title game.
Not this time.
Due to NCAA sanctions, Ohio State is banned from playing for the Big Ten championship next week and going to a bowl, and isn't a factor in the national title picture.
So a wondrous and surprising season - 11-0 heading into Saturday's home game with the 20th-ranked Wolverines - will come to an abrupt and premature end on Saturday.
Many of the faithful blame athletic director Gene Smith, who gambled and lost that the NCAA wouldn't levy a bowl ban.
Letters to the editor in the local newspaper, calls to sports talk shows and posts on fan websites all spew vitriol at Smith, who had served on the NCAA's committee on infractions and believed the penalties he and Ohio State's administrators had proposed would be sufficient to appease the ruling body of intercolleg...